Looking to expand their core set of skills and work with a more diverse and varied group of patients, optometrists often consider providing consultations and aftercare for individuals interested in laser eye surgery.
Many organisations, including Optical Express, afford staff this opportunity to expand their clinical skills and knowledge by becoming laser optometrists.
Optical Express serves as a useful case study for individuals interested in working with laser eye surgery patients, though each laser eye surgery provider no doubt has their own unique training programme in place.
Optical Express provides comprehensive training to enable optometrists to be able to assess patients’ suitability for various types of laser eye surgery, as well as to provide post operative care to patients following treatment.
Through its International Medical Advisory Board (IMAB), Optical Express has created a detailed training manual. This manual is frequently reviewed and updated, to reflect the fact that the refractive surgery industry, from technologies to parameters, continues to develop, and the wealth of expertise from IMAB members enables Optical Express to ensure that training information and protocols remain up-to-date.
When an optometrist begins their laser training, they are sent a training manual detailing the new information that they will be expected to learn. In addition, a laser trainer – a fellow optometrist with a number of years laser experienced, is assigned to the trainee.
Over two days, the trainer spends one-on-one time with the optometrist going through the training manual.
The manual covers:
In addition to theory, the optometrist is also trained on using a range of new equipment and taught how to interpret the results. This includes:
The optometrist will spend time shadowing their trainer, watching both consultations and post operative examinations being carried out. The optometrist will also get the opportunity to watch laser surgery being carried out, in order to have a full understanding of the entire process that they are speaking with patients about.
Once the trainer is confident that the optometrist is fully prepared, the optometrist will begin to carry out consultations and post operative examinations under supervision. At the end of 5 days, the optometrist will meet with their trainer to receive feedback and discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and if their trainer feels that they are ready, the optometrist will be signed off as a laser optometrist. Over they following months the trainer and optometry development manager (ODM) will monitor the new laser optometrist and offer support if any issues arise.
The role of laser optometrist is a clinically demanding one, but with a structured training programme, it is a position that can be accessible to many, if not all, optometrists.